Young People and Gambling Risks

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TODAY The Times had a front page headline expressing alarm at the pervasiveness of gambling promotion. This follows an editorial earlier in the month warning of the human devestation caused by electronic gambling. For many years there have been media campaigns, politicians, individuals, Churches, psychiatrists, and organisations set up specifically to highlight the dangers of Fixed Odds Betting Machines found in bookmakers. Alarm is growing quickly about online gambling available to anyone with a smartphone, computer or pad.

In 2016 the Gambling Commission reported that almost half a million children gamble weekly and 9,000 of these are already problem gamblers. These figures are likely to grow. The nature of online gambling is very similar to that of the machines on bookmakers. Experts believe that the speed of play, the ease of play and other factors evoke a ‘zone;, initially pleasurable, that can lead to addiction. It is always difficult to gather data in such a rapidly growing area, and there will always be different methodologies and disputes about interpretation, but the currently agreed figures are worrying enough.

Parents have a role to play of course. Ongoing informal education and information from charities and other organisations is vital too: a particular new demography of gambling for instance is that of educated young adults which includes Higher Education students.

Schools have a role to play too.  A House of Lord Committee earlier this year called for digital literacy to be the ‘fourth pillar’ of education, and few educationists would argue against that. Each school will organise digital literacy differently, some combination of specific classes and cross-curricular organisation. As well as skills development, teachers will be concerned with such activities as critical responses to digital media, risks attached to various sectors of the internet, citizen development for the digital future and so on. Education about drugs and alcohol is a basic part of Personal, Social and Health Education (PSHE). Gambling needs attention too.

There are many ways this can be covered. Maths can look at probabilities and ‘The Gambler’s Fallacy’, as well as the nature of random numbers. In the UK there are examples of young people having produced drama and video around the theme of gambling. Business studies can explore the ethics of gambling industries, and the roles of business and personal responsibility. Psychology/biology/sociology can look at the various levels of understanding addiction. Media education can examine advertising, the role of digital technology in affecting behaviours, stereotypes of gambling and addiction in film, television and other media. English can introduce literature (such as Dostoevsky’s The Gambler), promote group and class discussion, expressive writing, working with newspaper reports etc. Media/Communications/English students with more advanced skills can commit to a multi-level project which examines the many complexities of modern gambling. History can out gambling in a broader context.

Our site beatthefix.com provides a basis for project work. It is a developing site and in the near future will be publishing more suggestions and some free resources.

 

 

Coming Soon! It’s an Education!

THIS SITE is a bit of a mish mash just now! OK, we know. We’re busy with a redesign but this will be mainly to accomodate a big section on education. Formal and informal resources, for teachers and students, for the rest of us who are interested in the growing digital environment we live in whether we like it or not.

A lot of the more formal stuff will be of special interest to English and Media teachers and students, but there is a definite need for skills and critical digital literacy to feature across the curriculum. We’ll draw upon features of media studies, and include the use of literature, film and drama. Teachers of PSHE (personal, social and health education) will also find the site useful.

So far the site has taken a very general look at some of the ‘big issues’ around the digital world, one being of course the repeating worries about ‘digital addiction’ and related concerns about our future lives. There’s a ‘handle’ here relating to addiction, and a bit of psychology. This relates tour case study site http://www.beatthefix.com which explores a specific focus of digital machines. Gambling machines (which include of course those available in smartphones, tablets and computers) give rise to very precise social concerns. The case study affords an opportunity to consider addiction and gambling addiction in particular; it is designed to introduce the ways that law, politics, campaign groups, public health, business practices, psychology, the media, social media, advertising all intersect.

Digital Politics

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As digital technologies expand along with their use new words, phrases and concepts emerge. One such is digital politics.

The phrase can have several meanings:

  • The use of digital media, especially social, to inform, persuade, unite, argue politically.
  • The politics of the internet itself. The power differential between service providers and users. Government policies. Censorship.
  • The ‘digital divide’. How far people globally and locally have access to the internet. How far digital literacy is developed.
  • Cyber warfare.
  • Funding of reasearch into the internet and its future.

In practice today, on may consider such intense issues as how benefit claimants are required to manage claims online and seek jobs. Or how people may be manipulated not only by ‘fake news’ but by unscrupulous commercial websites.

To gain a fuller understanding of the complexity of digital politics have a look at the freely available Handbook of Digital Politics

It is well worth pointing out that digital ‘anything’ is embedded in the overall political, cultural and economic structures of society. For instance, like ‘old fashioned’ literacy, digital literacy for young people cannot be expected to develop in only a classroom. The high number of adults (one in six in the UK) who have difficulty with reading and writing are not the products of poor schooling (although this may be a factor) but of much broader societal dimensions. Addressing these dimensions involves politics.